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Hi Dennis, please tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi, my name is Dennis Scholl. I am 26 years old and have been working for Continental since 2011. I started as a dual student in cooperation with the university of Baden-Württemberg, Mannheim. That is why I am already in my 7th year at Continental. Currently, I am happily taken but not married, no kids and no pets. My parents used to have a dog, but sadly I am to busy at the moment to take care of one myself. My current position at Continental is called “Test and Validation Engineer Automated Driving”. I am in this position since finishing my studies and starting my full-time role with Continental at the end of 2014. Also, I am parallely pursuing my master degree and really appreciate Continental’s support on this.
Test & Validation Engineer Automated Driving sounds pretty complex, what is hidden behind the title?
As it is often the case, the title sounds very complex. My tasks are various. As mentioned above my role is that of a test engineer. I am trying out new functions, which were produced by my colleagues from the software development. The project I am currently involved in is called „Cruising Chauffeur“. It is a predevelopment project on automated driving on highways. The goal is to completely hand over the driving task to the car once we reach the highway. In other words: When I test drive our cars, I am driving the car to a highway and then let the car drive me. Yet of course, it’s not only driving around in cars what we do. We only spend about half of our time working in the car. The rest of the time we are occupied with topics, such as the protection of these systems, planning tests, modifying the car, integrating and evaluating our system scores in comparison to others and whether or not it provides a comfortable driving experience for our end customer. The goal here is to objectively back up the evaluation with numbers. Another big part of our job is the presentation on public roads for customers and media representatives, especially in the predevelopment phase. By this, we aim to show our competences to our costumers and thus to strengthen Continental’s position as a technology company towards customers and general audience.
How did you come to such an unusual position?
I get asked this quite often. I think it was due to a mix of absolute determination to work in this department combined with the lucky chance of new positions being established at the right moment. During my studies, I spent two practice phases in my current department and was given the opportunity to learn a lot about the topic of automated driving. During these two practice phases, I also had the chance to spend three months in the ADAS department at the Auburn Hills location, where they work on driver assistance systems. Thanks to the practical experience and my bachelor thesis in cooperation with my current department, I was able to convince my manager and actual colleagues to hire me after my graduation for one of the newly created positions. At that time, the project “Cruising Chauffeur” started and I was lucky to be on board since the very beginning.
What are the biggest challenges you have to deal with? What do you value most about your work?
One of the hardest challenges is the wide variety of topics in automated driving. From sensors, modeling of the surroundings, path planning, analysis of the situation to control technique and the implementing actuators (brakes, steering), you need at least basic knowledge, but often deeper understanding of the topics to be able to perform. With so many topics and different experts involved in the project, it can be difficult to identify problematic aspects during the test drives. As challenging as this is, it is also the part I like most about my work. You get in touch with so many different colleagues and topics and learn a lot from these encounters over the course of time. A great and always exciting variety are also the customer and media events. It is fantastic to receive direct feedback from our customers, just normal car drivers. During these events, you meet a lot of people and you thereby get acknowledgement for your hard work, as well as feedback on already implemented improvements.
What is you balance to work?
Besides my job, I am playing water polo in my hometown. The training and matches are a great sports balance. In addition to that, I go for a run whenever I find the time. It allows me to switch off and pause from thinking for a while.
Another thing to balance out work, is spending time with my friends and my family. It allows me to talk about completely different topics. I enjoy visiting handball matches or going on a trip with my friends. On Sunday evenings, I often spend my time relaxing with my parents, we usually have dinner together and enjoy the nice weather in summertime or watching a good movie in wintertime.